Monday, November 4, 2019

Bullet Review: Wonder Woman Annual #3 - Leviathan Theory

Last week was a dreaded 5th Wednesday of a month which meant books were light.

One surprise in the midst was Wonder Woman Annual #3, written by old friend Steve Orlando with art by V Ken Marion.

Now I am an admitted Steve Orlando fan. I liked his Supergirl. I thought Electric Warriors was fascinating. And his stuff recently on Wonder Woman was really solid. So when I saw Orlando was writing Diana again and it was an Event Leviathan tie-in, I was in.

Turns out the Leviathan piece is at the end and only adds a little to my Leviathan Theory. But the story itself was very solid. This is what an Annual should be, a big stand alone story.

The plot is simple. The main plot takes place five years ago. ARGUS placed an undercover ape agent in Gorilla City to spy on and perhaps undermine current legitimate ruler Gorilla Grodd. Grodd discovers the spy and begins torturing the turncoat. Suddenly ARGUS is on a rescue mission. And Diana isn't happy. What ARGUS did was wrong.

But there is more here. We see how one of the ARGUS agents is a young soldier named Helen Paul, a girl Diana saved from a terrorist attack 12 years earlier. Helen was going to be burned to death in a fire at a Nazi stronghold. But Diana saved her and put her in the care of ARGUS.

So where do we go from there?

Well, I loved Diana in the Gorilla City story. She isn't happy with ARGUS placing an illegal spy in Grodd's world. But she can't abide Grodd killing the ape who was just following orders.

Before things get ugly and bloody and fatal, Wonder Woman settles thing like the diplomat she is.

Grodd will release the spy.
ARGUS will apologize.

Both sides can be right ... or else.

That's my Wonder Woman!

But in the present, Leviathan makes his pitch to Helen who is now a well seasoned ARGUS soldier.

She initially shines him on but he promises her the truth.

His line about taking 'her show on the road' is pretty snarky, akin to the 'bluffing bluffer' sort of adolescent speak I have come to think of in Leviathan.

Is it Ted Kord? Maybe?

But then he tells her the truth. Remember, he is all about eradicating lies and secrets.

Helen wasn't a hostage at the Nazi site; she was the daughter of the leaders. The leaders were gunend down by ARGUS and Diana. They never told her the truth about her parents.

Even more, it turns out that Helen is the descendant of a true Valkyrie Gudra. This was part of a group of Valkyries who landed on Themiscyra and were slaughtered. Gudra's family line swore revenge.

And now that she knows the truth, Leviathan has to ask her why Diana wasn't there when Leviathan himself destroyed ARGUS.

She has never been  telling Helen the truth. She feared what Helen could become.

Shaken by this new reality, Helen joins.

And becomes Paula Von Gunther, the Warmaster.

Okay, I can't really pick this apart for Leviathan clues because this doesn't really seem like Leviathan.

So far, Leviathan seems content in just creating a universal model of an army. Outside of Leviathan and the being I call the Enforcer, everyone else looks like the same infantry. There aren't many individuals in Leviathan.

Also he says he wants what Superman wants. He seems to want order. So him setting Helen up like this as a solo villain to fight Wonder Woman seems wrong.

But his dialogue does sound like Leviathan. I suppose it could be Mark Shaw.

Marion's art veers about as close to Michael Turner as you can. Some panels of Helen up close could be Kara from Turner's take on Supergirl. It is highly stylized. And I actually think it worked quite well for this story.

But for me, the biggest thing was Diana sounding like the Diana I want to read. I'll be glad when Orlando takes over the Wonder Woman title again.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

I enjoyed much of this, though had a few head-scratching moments - Helen's timeline, for instance, makes no sense, but that's all at my review, no need to repeat it here. The main thing is that you should indeed discount this so far as Leviathan clues go, it reminds me of when Monitor had the villain-arming MO before Crisis, then his whole purpose was rewritten. Leviathan here is too different from the Bendis version to count.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Michael Turner look had something to do with how Marion drew some noses. Not only Helen, but Diana also resembled the Turner Kara Zor-El in some panels.

The Diamond solicitations have been mixed up, but apparently Wonder Woman is switching to monthly; #83 will go on sale on 12/18; and #84 will actually be the super-sized #750, appearing in January.


Steve said...

I couldn't believe it took one short conversation to turn the kid evil. That was worse than back during Civil War when Speedball changed his fervent belief he was innocent in his sleep...

SimB said...

Like you Dr Anj I'm a fan of Mr Orlando's and look forward to him taking on Diana on an ongoing basis.
A friend bought me G. Willow Wilson's start and I'm sorry to say it left me feeling cold.
Mr Orlando really seems to write with HEART and his ability to sneak in obscure callbacks to previous continuities of days gone by always leave me with a grin.